Byron Clark’s speech at St Albans Baptist Church

Speech by Christchurch Central candidate Byron Clark

Good evening everyone and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you all tonight.

I am here to encourage you to elect me as your member of parliament for Christchurch Central, and to give your party vote to the Workers Party. I want to make the point however that although you will be casting a vote, we do not live in a democratic society. I’m not talking about the 5% threshold that keeps minority views out of parliament, of the electoral funding model the reinforces the status quo, though of course these things are a concern.

I am talking about the existence in our society of one of the most totalitarian institutions humanity has devised- the capitalist workplace. While we may get a vote for a party and member of parliament once every three years, there is practically no democracy in the workplace. With no other way to make a living for the majority of the population, we are forced to sell our ability to work, with minimal control over where we will work, what hours, and what work we will do.

We may pride ourselves on a society that allows free speech, but I could draw your attention to the recent case where a Warehouse employee was fired for a critical comment about her employer made on the Internet, or I could bring up the -perfectly legal- contract McDonalds employees sign saying they won’t talk about their working conditions to the media, without risking dismissal. When you can take someones income away from them for speaking out, you are taking away their right to free speech.

The Workers Party is campaigning for real freedom and democracy. The unrestricted right of workers to speak and publish freely, even when what they say is critical of their employer. And the repeal of the anti-strike provisions of the Employment Relations Act, giving workers freedom to organise and struggle collectivly for more rights at work. We support the right of New Zealand workers to travel to and work in any country on this planet, and we support that same right for all migrant workers coming here.

We would repeal the Terrorism Suppression Act, which has been used against political activists but caught no terrorists, and the Electoral Finance Act, which puts draconian restrictions on political activity. We would also repeal Labours State Owned Enterprises and Local Government Acts which require public services to be run as if they were commercial enterprises, and we would scrap GST, a regressive tax that disproportionately affects those on low incomes.

We aim to build a movement for a better society, one based on human need not private profit. Give us your party vote, and give me your candidate vote- I am pledging to only take the average workers wage from my MP salary and donate to rest to groups advancing the interests of working people. But more important than voting is the movement; get involved, and help us make a difference.

Thank you.

3 Responses to Byron Clark’s speech at St Albans Baptist Church

  1. James Read says:

    Why should an athiest want to speak at a church, where there is likely to bew little support.? I can’t imagine Marx, Lenin or Trotsky agreeing to use such a venue, even had one been offered. What has happened to the song that tells us ” each at the forge must do his duty and strike while the iron is hot ” or ” no saviours from on high deliver, no trust have we in prince or peer. ” ? Socialist believe humanity’s future is in our own hands, not those of a supposedly supernatural being. The whole report seems to reek of insincerity and opportunism.

  2. Tim B says:

    The church was hosting a forum for candidates standing in the Christchurch Central electorate - Byron was not taking part in any religious service!

    The attendees were by no means limited to church-goers either.

  3. Nick Scullin says:

    James Read Candidate meetings are often organised by a Church group, and are probably attended by a range of people, some of them religious, some not. Byron’s speech had no religious message what-so-ever. Also I would point out that a person can be both a Christian and an exploited worker. Byron’s core message about how Capitalism restricts workers freedom is relevant to all workers regardless of their religious beliefs. If a socialist were to believe that Religion stands in the way of workers liberation from Capitalist exploitation, then surely the goal should be to convince as many religious workers of this fact as possible, rather than abandoning them, or worse, designating them as the enemy of socialists as you seem to be implying. What was insincere about Byron’s speech? Byron sincerely believes in opposing the tyrrany of the “capitalist workplace”.

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